Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thinking About Succession...Before It's Too Late

Back in February, the business news carried the story of Steve Jobs' deteriorating health and the question of succession. At Apple's shareholder meeting, the question of succession surfaced. One pundit asked a key question:

~ "Is Apple's bench strong enough no matter how long Steve Jobs is not there?"

In other words, can an innovative firm like Apple withstand the loss of a creative leader like Jobs should he suddenly exit the scene?

It's an uncomfortable prospect to think about. In fact, many (if not most) leaders would prefer NOT to think about succession. A recent HR survey found that 2 out of 5 companies do not have a succession process in place. Yet this is a terribly important governance issue for boards, investors, and shareholders, as well as a business continuity issue for customers and employees.

HR guru William Rothwell released a brief video on the basics of succession planning where he says:

- The goal of succession planning is to develop all of the people in an organization to achieve their potential

He then suggests some steps toward a succession process:

1. Inventory your talent against the future - Who do we have vs Where are we going? Identify the skills and capabilities that the company will need as it pursues its strategic plans.

2. Assess potential for promotion - Who is ready for greater responsibility? Begin to ensure the promotability of current staff to meet the future work demands.

3. Close the gap - How do we build the leadership capacity we will need? Through planned learning and development, including leadership development, make the commitment to upgrading the talent to meet the future.

If you are in a leadership role in your organization, I recommend you consider the question of succession.

Who have you identified to step into your spot?

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Thursday March 24, 2011. Would you like more ideas on leadership, delegation and succession? Invite Terry to your organization.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Google Finds What Good Managers Do

In today's Wall St Journal Online, I saw a headline that Google is the # 1 most desired employer in the eyes of recent college graduates. Why? Google has branded itself quite well: the best search engine on Earth. And Google presents this image to smart young professionals:

"Google has tailored the image it projects to potential employees, said John Sullivan, a management professor at San Francisco State University. The company regularly hosts open houses and tech-related talks in areas where it wants to recruit, said Yolanda Mangolini, director of outreach programs for Google. 'It's incredibly powerful and helps them imagine themselves at Google,' she said. The company also runs blogs, Twitter feeds and YouTube channels that try to show what it's like to work there, she said."

The latest evidence of Google's prowess in search is making waves throughout the blogosphere: Google has discovered what good managers do!

Google formed a project team, called Project Oxygen, to study the question, What do the best Google managers do to have highly productive teams? After rigorous internal research, including interviews with Google's own employees, they produced Google's Rules, eight things Managers must do, and three pitfalls to avoid. (Click on the image to the right to expand and read.)

Nicely done, Google.

One comment. The third pitfall, Spending too little time managing and communicating with employees, has no supporting comment underneath it. Interesting, no? Perhaps the unstated message is: Enuf said.

If I were to tweak their rules poster, I'd add this supporting note: See items 1 through 8.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Monday March 21, 2011. Looking for help in making your managers great? Invite Terry to speak at your organization.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Twenty Lessons for Landing Your Next Job

A friend and fellow networker Peter Lutz recently landed in a new job. Like many self-aware job seekers, Peter knew that his job was to find a job. And he pursued it with determination and optimism.

Following the landing, Peter sat down and wrote up his "lessons learned" and shared them with his network. He then gave me permission to reprint his points here. I have edited them slightly from Peter's original email.

Thank you, Peter, for taking the time to share what worked. If other job hunters would adopt your twenty points, their searches would be much more productive.

Twenty Lessons for Landing Your Next Job by Peter Lutz

My sincere thanks to my friends and network contacts from the Breakfast Club and other networking groups. Your support and advice have been particularly helpful during this latest transition after I was downsized from my position last year. I want to particularly thank those who took the time to offer suggestions for my search and who were very generous with their time. I also thank my wife and my family for their constant love and support.

This is the 3rd time since 2003 that I have been downsized and I am sure that it will not be the last time. As Marty Latman often says, your job is to always be looking for a job and to be networking so that when the downsizing happens, you are prepared for the search. I spent alot of time over the past 8 years networking and I believe I barely scratched the surface of the network that I have built to identify opportunities and assist other jobseekers.

Here are a few of my comments, suggestions and opinions regarding my search and being in transition. Perhaps they might be helpful to you.

1) You must maintain a positive attitude.

2) You must maintain as regular a routine as possible - Remember that finding a job is your job right now.

3) Develop a spreadsheet with metrics to track your productivity - This is how I made sure I stayed on track.

4) Attend a minimum of 2 to 3 networking meetings and events per week.

5) Reach out to people and tell them You are looking.

6) Develop and distribute a list of target companies and industries that You are interested in.

7) Express gratitude.

8) Pray - I prayed and asked my family to pray for me.

9) Go to the gym - Try to get a good night's sleep...job search is hard work!

10) Have fun, as much as possible, and reward yourself for working hard at the job search.

11) Spend approximately 40-60 hours per week on job search and networking activities.

12) Avoid negative people and situations.

13) Avoid staying at home in front of the computer all the time.

14) Research companies that You are interested in.

15) Improve your resume using input and feedback from trusted network contacts.

16) Help recruiters whenever possible - It is important to remember that recruiters do not work for a jobseeker, rather they work for their clients. If a job was not a good fit for me, I attempted when possible to be a resource for the recruiter in finding other qualified candidates. Recruiters are like elephants...they have a good memory for a good resource (me) and by building good relationships with recruiters and helping other jobseekers, I attempted to help both groups.

17) Realize that getting an interview is positive - Prepare diligently for the interview.

18) Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up. - There were occasions where a phone interview did not happen when scheduled. I would follow up with the recruiter or hiring manager and attempt to reschedule the interview.

19) Remain flexible.

20) Remind yourself that "this too shall pass." - Job loss is just another storm that I knew I would survive.

Everyone will eventually land. I believe that you can shorten the time in search if you work hard at it every single day and remain positive, focused and determined.

I wish everyone success. I will remain involved in networking as much as possible. If I can assist anyone with advice, information, referrals or Business Analyst specific knowledge, please let me know.

Lastly, please connect with me on Linkedin if we are not already connected. Follow me on Twitter. I am also on Facebook and other social networks since I am a big believer in using these platforms as much as possible as tools in job search.

Best regards,

Peter Lutz

Wisdom is knowing what to do next. Now you know. What will you do next?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Friday March 18, 2011.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What Job Seekers Must Know About Social Media

Question for job hunting Boomers: Have you been puzzled and frustrated by the rise of Twitter, facebook, Linkedin, blogs and all the rest that are called "social media," wondering whether any of it can help you with your search for meaningful employment?

Yesterday, at the St. Matthias Employment Ministry, for two hours, a room full of job seekers listened in wonder as Jacob C. Alonzo provided a tour of the emerging realm of social media and why anyone who is "in transition" these days must be active with it.

Like a sherpa who knows the terrain, and can expertly guide explorers through it, Jacob made many key points including these:

Regarding being social - Jacob asked, Are you creating content and sharing it with others? Many if not most in the room were speechless. What? Me a blogger? Jacob put blogging into a broader context he called The 5 C's for Today's Social Resume: a 21st Century job seeker generates content, communicates it, curates it, connects with others, and consumes the content that others are generating and sharing. In a word, today's job seekers are social.

Regarding facebook - From its beginnings on a college campus, facebook has come a long way and is now being used by employers as a talent marketplace tool to reach the younger demographic. Boomers who are concerned about their age, and therefore avoid facebook, are making a mistake. They are shutting themselves out of an important new employment arena. As Jacob puts it, facebook is social. And everyone is rushing to get on facebook.

Regarding Twitter - Like facebook, Twitter is incredibly social. It's a micro-blogging tool where users are sharing content with one another, and then connecting where they perceive a shared interest. In addition, jobs are being posted via twitter. Jacob recommends using Twellow to search Twitter for people and for jobs.

Regarding Linkedin - Don't over-rely on Linkedin, Jacob says. While it's an important part of the trinity (i.e., facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin), many Boomers spend all their time there, and little or no time with facebook and Twitter. Having said that, be aware that LinkedIn now has a labs area where new apps are being launched such as Tweets, a Twitter client you can use on LinkedIn. And one other LinkedIn tip: use the Skills feature to populate skills into your profile. These skills represent the keywords that recruiters are using to find talent through LinkedIn!

Jacob C. Alonzo has been presenting on Using Social Media in the Job Search Process since 2009. Jacob has spoken at networking meetings, conferences and events throughout New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Jacob is an experienced user experience professional and information architect. Jacob creates and improves interactive and informational spaces that are both usable and useful, including software applications, the Web and the mobile arena.

To invite Jacob to your next meeting, he can be reached at:

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Sunday March 13, 2011.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Five Stories Leaders Tell

The ability to tell a compelling story has been part of the human fabric since ancient times. In today's business world, many are rediscovering its value. For example, Hollywood legend Peter Guber has just published a new book called Tell to Win wherein he makes the case for stories. As Guber puts it:

"More and more, success is won by creating compelling stories that have the power to move partners, shareholders, customers, and employees to action. Simply put, if you can't tell it, you can't sell it."

This "power to move" is the action of Leadership. As Warren Bennis famously said, Leadership is the ability to translate vision into results. Stories help leaders do just that.

Here then are Five Stories that Leaders must be prepared to tell if they hope to move others to results.

1. The Idea - Every one of us has a "bright idea" now and then. This story tells about a time when you had an idea, maybe a solution to a dilemma your company was facing, and how you presented the idea to others to gain their support. Were you successful? Did they resist your idea? Were you able to overcome their objections? Even if the story ends with the idea being shot down (Hey, that's life on the Idea Food Chain sometimes), this story can illustrate such aspects of practical wisdom as imagination, patience, persistence, communication, and selling skills.

2. The Ordeal - Every one of us suffers through an ordeal at one time or another. A difficult and possibly painful (even if only psychically so) time of stress. This story tells about a time when you, and perhaps others, had to suffer through a prolonged trial, such as the uncertainty that comes with an impending acquisition by another organization. What did you do to help yourself, and others, through this trying time? This story can illustrate such aspects of practical wisdom as optimism, hope, vision, fortitude, and solidarity with others.

3. The Transition - Every one of us has had to adapt to a change. Maybe there was a merger and you found yourself working for a new employer, adjusting to a whole new organizational culture. Did you rise to the occasion? Did you seize the opportunity? Did you learn as fast as you could? Did you prove yourself to the new regime? This story can illustrate such aspects of practical wisdom as adaptability, flexibility, customer-focus, results-focus, organizational savvy, and learning.

4. The Setback - Every one of us has been knocked down. Maybe it was a minor setback such as enduring a budget cut. For many others, it may have been a major setback such as a termination. Did you stay down? Or did you get up, get creative, get moving, and galvanize into action? This story can illustrate such aspects of practical wisdom as belief in oneself, courage, facing adversity, resolve, creativity, and resilience.

5. The Team - Every one of us has been part of a team at one time or another. Though you may not have been the team leader, it may have occurred to you that there is no "I" in TEAM. That it takes everyone to succeed. When you realized that you shared responsibility for the leadership, and for the ultimate success of the team, you broke through (whether you knew it or not) to the essential meaning of leadership. This story can illustrate such aspects of practical wisdom as teamwork, taking responsibility, following, and leading.

Compelling stories have the power to inspire, to excite, and to influence others. Stories are a leadership practice.

More than ever before, as a leader, you must be ready and able to craft and deliver stories. The power of a story can go far beyond recounting a past event to illustrate an achievement. A well-told story also demonstrates your practical wisdom and reveals the essence of the storyteller.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on March 7, 2011. For more tips on storytelling, leadership, and change, contact Terry. Visit his website and invite him to speak to your organization.